The Los Angeles Rams were in an unusual position heading into the 2018 NFL Draft.
Having made headlines repeatedly in free agency bringing in top-level talents through trades before adding DL Ndamukong Suh on a one-year flier, the Rams were in the unique position of both being without a single pick in the top 88 of the draft while also not needing one.
With so much talent amassed on both sides of the ball, there were not going to be very many openings for the rookie class. Perhaps at linebacker there might have been an opportunity with an early pick, but it wasn’t likely given that the Rams didn’t have a pick until #89 and that was the Rams’ sole pick in the first 110 selections of the draft.
But despite the limitations of availability placed on the class, NFL Media’s Jeremy Bergman ranked the Rams’ 2018 rookie class the worst in the NFL last year as the only rookie class to receive less than a “C” grade.
32.) Los Angeles Rams
Round 3: (No. 89 overall) Joseph Noteboom, T, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (111) Brian Allen, C, 12 games/0 starts; (135) John Franklin-Myers, DE, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (147) Micah Kiser, LB, 16 games/0 starts; (160) Obo Okoronkwo, DE, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (176) John Kelly, RB, 4 games/0 starts; (192) Jamil Demby, T, 0 games/0 starts (waived in September, spent most of season on Lions’ practice squad, then was re-signed by Rams in December); (195) Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT, 0 games/0 starts; (205) Trevon Young, DE, 2 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (231) Travin Howard, LB, 0 games/0 starts; (244) Justin Lawler, DE, 16 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings: KhaDarel Hodge, WR, 14 games/0 starts.
The NFC champions did their team-building through trades and free agency last offseason, opting to part with their first-round selection for Brandin Cooks and mid-round picks for the likes of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Considering all that, Los Angeles’ utilization of its draft capital should grade high; Cooks led the team in receiving, and Peters and Talib shored up the secondary (when healthy and/or hungry for gumbo). But when looking at what the Rams reaped from their 11 picks, it’s easy to label this draft a total bust. Los Angeles got zero starts from their draft picks. None. Zilch. Nada. Noteboom and Allen were smart plays in case there were significant injuries on the depth-less O-line (there weren’t), and Franklin-Myers can grow into a greater role next year. But this haul is easily one of the most forgettable from any team with at least 10 selections in recent memory.
I guess the part I’d push back against is the lack of context of why there were zero starts from the rookies. I don’t put much of that on the quality of the rookies. I put most of it instead on the quality of the roster the rookies were joining.
I’d also quibble a bit with the idea that Noteboom and Allen were added just for significant injuries on the O-line. As our own Joey the Jerk pointed out this week, the offensive line is nearing a point of transition with LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Rodger Saffold III and C John Sullivan all potentially exiting as early as this offseason. Noteboom and Allen weren’t drafted solely for the 2018 season. They were drafted on contracts through the 2021 season.
Myopia aside, I get it. The Rams just got very, very little out of their rookie class. Aside from JFM’s rotational duties and the special teams snaps, it just wasn’t an impact class. Yet.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if next year and beyond as some of these guys get more opportunities in offensive and defensive setups we see this grade start to improve and reflect the quality of the picks themselves and not just the roster bind they were in.